Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
- This article covers the culture of Romanized areas of Gaul. For the political history of the brief "Gallic Empire" of the 3rd century, see Gallic Empire.
The term Gallo-Roman describes the Romanized culture of Gaul under the rule of the Roman Empire, particularly the areas of Gallia Narbonensis that developed into Occitania, and to a lesser degree, Aquitania. The formerly Romanized north of Gaul, once it had been occupied by the Franks, developed into Merovingian culture instead. Roman life, centered on the public events and cultural responsibilities of urban life in the res publica and the sometimes luxurious life of the self-sufficient rural villa system, took longer to collapse in the Gallo-Roman regions.
During the Crisis of the Third Century, from 259 to 274, an independent Gallo-Roman realm that is termed the Gallic Empire by modern historians, was temporarily established. It was formed of the break-away provinces of Gaul, Britain, and Spain. The Gallic emperor Postumus set up the Empire's capital in Trier, in what is now the Rhineland-Palatinate of Germany. Fuller political details are at the entry Gallic Empire.
At Perigueux, France, a luxurious Roman villa called the Domus of Vesunna, built round a garden courtyard surrounded by a colonnaded peristyle enriched with bold tectonic frescoing, has been handsomely protected in a modern glass-and-steel structure that is a fine example of archaeological museum-making (see link).
Lyon, the capital of Roman Gaul, is now the site of a Museum of Gallo-Roman Civilization (rue Céberg), associated with the remains of the theater and odeon of Roman Lugdunum. Visitors are offered a clear picture of the daily life, economic conditions, institutions, beliefs, monuments and artistic achievements of the first four centuries of the Christian era. The "Claudius Tablet" in the Museum transcribes a speech given before the Senate by the Emperor Claudius in 48, in which he requests the right for the heads of the Gallic nations to participate in Roman magistracy. The request having been accepted, the Gauls decided to engrave the imperial speech on bronze.
In Martigny, Valais, Switzerland, at the Fondation Pierre Gianadda, a modern museum of art and sculpture shares space with Gallo-Roman Museum centered on the foundations of a Celtic temple.
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